April 30, 2005
by Aida Edemariam
Norman G Finkelstein is no stranger to controversy, and he is stirring it up again. In The Holocaust Industry (2000) he argued that Jews should not elevate the Holocaust as in some way sacred, should not elevate their suffering above the suffering of others, should be careful about participating in a “memory” industry; in A Nation on Trial, he and Ruth Bettina Birn challenged, in detail, Daniel Goldhagen’s bestseller Hitler’s Willing Executioners. Now he has written Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, which is, according to Finkelstein’s comprehensive official website, “a meticulously researched expose of the corruption of scholarship on the Israel-Palestine conflict.”
This time Finkelstein has in his sights Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and his bestseller The Case for Israel. Dershowitz has hired lawyers. And “he’s been sending us some letters,” says Lynne Withey, director of University of California Press, which is to publish the book in the US. “He’s not too happy about this, as you can imagine.” The book was meant to appear this spring, but is delayed until August. They’re doing “a lot of copyediting”. And factchecking? Yes. And they have decided not to publish it in England themselves, as they feel the book, which has “major sales potential in Europe”, should be taken on by a UK publisher. As yet, there are no takers.